Guest Author Spot Sequel: Young Adult Author Jenny Torres Sanchez!
Welcome back for our Guest Author Spot sequel! Today we’re featuring young adult debut author Jenny Torres Sanchez. She’s celebrating the release of The Downside of Being Charlie, which has been getting great praise like this:
”The Downside of Being Charlie is what you always hope a great Young Adult novel will be: raw, heartfelt, searingly honest coming-of-age emotion in a character who feels almost as important to you as you feel to yourself. This novel exceeds expectations in that and all other regards. If this is Jenny Torres Sanchez’s debut novel, this is an author to watch. A must-read for YA fans.” -Catherine Ryan Hyde, author of Pay It Forward & Jumpstart the World.
I’ve sometimes been described as a pessimist. I’m kind of okay with that because a part of me (not unlike my teen self) thinks it’s slightly amusing and romantic to be misunderstood. But I’m not really a pessimist. To be fair, I can see how people might think so. I mean, I do have a deep affinity for the color black and I have a tendency to think and talk about death quite a bit to the point where people ask me to change the subject because they’re getting depressed. And yes, melancholy music is my anthem.
But still, I’m not really a pessimist.
Okay, so sure, I think life often goes the way of bad. I think everyone ends up getting his share of bad in some way, shape, or form. I think life leaves bruises and throws us around like rag dolls. And sometimes, life even lassoes you up and drags you around by the heels for miles and miles and miles. And I think…no…I guarantee that you will be hurt someday and something bad will happen to you (wow, okay, that is pretty pessimistic).
But here’s the thing, I’m a huge believer of Hope. I believe that hope makes anything possible. I think hope can save a life. And I believe that even though something bad will happen to you, I also think something beautiful will happen to you too. So what does that make me?
I have no clue, but I think it totally explains my writing.
In The Downside of Being Charlie, lots of things are going badly for Charlie. From dealing with a “freakish” locker mate to constant self-loathing over his weight to dealing with a beyond dysfunctional family and a mentally-ill mother, nothing goes his way. There are some bright spots for him, but they are often eclipsed by the bigger, darker issues in his life. So he struggles—man does he struggle.
Sure, I could have made things easier on Charlie, but the truth is, it wouldn’t be fair to make his life easier because this is what he’s going through, all of this is what he has to deal with. And I don’t think it’s fair to write out some of it just because I can. I mean, we can’t do that in our own lives so I don’t want to do that in the lives of my characters. But while I don’t make things easier on my characters, I do give them this:
Charlie takes his punches, and you know what, he keeps going. Because somewhere in the recesses of his mind, he can’t help but hope. He’s hoping for something better. And that’s true for most of us, isn’t it? It’s why even in tragedy, we find the strength to persevere, to go on, to believe life can be good again someday. Most of us, even when we are at the lowest points in our lives, believe and hold on to the hope for something better. Because the truth is, in life we have very little control of the big things—the things that can change everything in one second. So sometimes, all we have is hope.
And that belief seems to find its way into my writing. I don’t think any of us could look anyone else in the eye and say, “Sorry, but it will never get better. Give up now.” I don’t think that’s in the human spirit. I think all of us want to survive. And while I never want to make life a happily ever after for my characters, I think hope is something that will always show up in my writing—even in the darkest pieces and the most troubled characters. I hope so, anyway.